Oregon Coast residents stash tsunami survival kits on high ground

August 23, 2012OREGONWhat does one stash for a tsunami? Residents of Cannon Beach are thinking about that. They’re planning to store drums full of survival gear far enough inland and high enough to be safe if the big one hits the Oregon coast and sends a tsunami wave ashore. The Daily Astorian reports the city is offering residents space in a shipping container and various sizes of drums, barrels and buckets that can be stored inside. Cannon Beach held a workshop on how to pack for the days after the big one, the equivalent of last year’s Japanese earthquake that could send a deadly tsunami across West Coast beaches and flood coastal towns. Essential items would include a shelter, such as a tent or tarp; sleeping bags or blankets; food with a long shelf life, such as ready-to-eat meals or canned goods, and a can opener; a basic first-aid kit, either pre-assembled or one containing personal medical items; a survival knife; axe or hatchet; garden trowel or folding shovel; flashlights with extra batteries; matches or lighter with a fire starter; water purification; and bottles or canteens for water storage. “We’re encouraging people not to turn this into a big to-do,” said City Council member Sam Steidel. “Most things they will need they can find at rummage sales, or they could be surplus stuff they find around the house that they’re not using all the time. I have packed my barrel with enough things for a two-person camp,” said Steidel, who participates in Civil War re-enactments. “The things are pretty much up-to-date items that are in the re-enactment trailer. A simple pot or Dutch oven is all you really need to cook with. Just about everyone has an old cast iron fry pan.” Cannon Beach is a popular tourist destination on the north Oregon coast, at the other end of a highway from Portland. It’s also known for thinking hard and creatively about tsunamis — something critics say has been lacking along the West Coast. A few years ago, Cannon Beach looked at the idea of rebuilding City Hall on stilts to provide refuge for people fleeing a tsunami. Computer modeling showed that the location wasn’t the best, and a study of alternative ideas continues. Recently, state and federal officials said they plan to use Cannon Beach in a pilot study of how landscape and a town’s demographics affect how long it takes for people to flee a tsunami. –KCBY
contribution by Amy P
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22 Responses to Oregon Coast residents stash tsunami survival kits on high ground

  1. Chris Gerber says:

    Actually, Coastal residents do need to make a big deal out of this…. I have been to Cannon Beach several times… it is a mecca for local artists and a very well known tourist destination. It lies just south of Seaside Oregon, a hop, skip and jump from the Portland metro area for a a weekend get away or just a day trip. The problem with the area is that it is right at sea lievel. If a Tsunami hits that is big enough (comparable in size to the Japan Tsunami.. or the Indonesian one in Dec. of 2004, the town is wiped out. All along the coast Oregon is working on getting a siren warning system set up in the coastal towns for such an event. Their other problem is educating the public on the facts of a Tsunami also. I would be willing to bet that if a Tsunami were to hit the Oregon coast…. Washington included, California? there woudl be a certain amount of culling of the gene pool because of ignorance… and arrogance. Bone up people… get educated!

    • In the event of a severe quake anywhere along the highest risk section of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, major tsunami damage can be expected all along the coasts of Oregon and Washington and along the California coast at least as far south as Eureka. While the actual location of the quake and its magnitude will determine the amount and extent of tsunami damage, it must be remembered that a tsunami will travel until it either hits land or expends its energy in the open ocean. Remember that the tsunami from the Sendai quake caused quite a bit of damage from southern California all the way up to Washington state, and that the tsunami from the 1964 Alaska quake destroyed a great deal of Crescent City, CA. While the geologists’ “guesstimates” of the probabilities seems like it is not an immediate threat, we must remember that the CSZ is already 65 years overdue for a major rupture, which means that, realistically, it can happen at any time, and with so few people even thinking about it let alone preparing for it, it really is a big deal.

      • Steve says:

        We live about a mile from Sunset beach in OR and it’s not much higher than sea-level. We are guilty of not doing much research on this but have considered renting a storage unit further inland and as much as we love living here, maybe even moving inland. We recently saw a documentary on tsunamis and it seems we are due for a super-tsunami from the CSZ every 200 yrs which we are past due for now. Thanks for this article, we plan to do more research and share it with others. In the mean time we a readying our go-bags; plan to get a scanner and aiming the parked car in the direction of escape.

  2. Dennis E. says:

    Great idea, community coming together for a common good. Very smart, will pay off in the future, if not for these but those who will come behind them.

  3. If only more communities along the Oregon coast were acting with the kind of foresight that Cannon Beach is. I live near Newport, and while nearly every community along the coast has Tsunami Danger Zone and Evacuation Route signs posted, there has been very little in the way of action or planning being taken. Some communities like Newport and Lincoln City have areas of higher ground that would probably be relatively safe from a tsunami on the scale of the one that devasted Japan, but many of the other towns are built on the low-lying ground that forms our coastal plain; I know of one “upscale” development that is actually built on a long sandbar that lies across the entrance of a small bay and extensive tidal flat. The news is tricking out from the local sources, but it has been quite low key and lower profile. If, or actually when, the Oregon coast gets hit with a severe quake and the tsunami that it is sure to generate, there is not a town along the coast that would escape the devastation and the loss of life will be great. But for the survivors, maintaining themselves in the aftermath may prove to be the greatest challenge.

  4. Skeptical citizen says:

    This is Good. Its very helpful for the local community to take proactive measures. Maybe the local goverment officials are beginning to sound the alarm.

  5. Irene C says:

    I’m glad to see that some people are taking this likelihood seriously. Having an escape route planned out (and practiced) is probably the most important part. An alternate route should also be planned to get to high ground, since there will be a lot of people fleeing at the same time. And don’t forget to have a bug-out bag. There won’t be much time to react when the tsunami warning comes. And all of their well-stocked supplies won’t help if they don’t get there.

    • streams13 says:

      Good reply, Irene C. The Japanese only had 16 minutes following the earthquake before the first tsunami waves began to arrive.

    • One thing that my fiance and I discussed was the security of the supplies stashed in a location like this. Are the authorities handling this site also taking steps to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, the people who placed their supplies there will also be able to access it with a minimum of fuss and disorder? In the wake of a disaster of this magnitude there will be a lot of people who will be desparate for supplies and I can see the scenario developing where some elements of society will attempt to take over sites like this for their own advantage. It’s a really great idea, but I hope that the people taking this route are thinking it all the way through. As to having an alternate escape route, that is a necessity as we have to remember that in severe earthquakes there would be buildings collapsing, power poles and trees coming down, and even landslides. One should pick the best routes where they are less likely to run into obstacles of these kinds. And the most important thing is to remember not to panic; keeping a cool, clear head in a disaster can make all the difference between survival and death.

      • Irene C says:

        I’ve thought about the security of it all, davidgreybeard. Not only would I worry about the panicked multitude, there is also the fear of government confiscation. But I guess that this plan is better than having no plan. Having more than one site would be a good idea too, especially for people who have friends who live on high ground. No plan is fool-proof, unfortunately. And in the end, our lives are in our Lord’s hands.

      • I couldn’t agree more, Irene, and government confiscation is one of the possibilities that I had in mind. More than one stash of supplies is a good idea, too, just in case. But as you say, our lives are in the Lord’s hands and whatever happens to any of us is what he wills. I would personally like to still be around when He returns simply because that would be a once in eternity sight to see, but He may have other plans and I know the odds are against me. But whatever He wills in the future, I will be comforted in knowing that He will set everything right.

      • uninformedluddite says:

        I assure you that my supplies would be unknown to anyone but myself and immediate family in an unadvertised location that could not be found by any but those in the know.

      • That’s the best way to do it. We are making our own preparations quietly, and since we live in the country no one is really paying any attention to us. Just the way I like it!

  6. Tom in Canada says:

    Okay folks, please cite the geologic evidence of previous tsunamis and the elevation to which the tsunami rose. It shouldn’t be all that hard. BTW, after the tsunami in Japan, there were belatedly discovered stone markers from hundreds of years ago, inscribed with a message for posterity to not build below this point. Too bad nobody paid attention.

  7. RogueDave says:

    Since moving to Southern Oregon from the earthquake zone to its south, I’ve been reading up about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and its potential to unleash an enormous EQ and tsunami. I’ve also become a prepper. In my view, these efforts while laudable, at least they are doing something, will be quickly learned to be inadequate. No mentions of how much food: 3 days, 1 wk, 2 wks? No mention of drinking water at all!!!?! Seems the City leaders up there are as ill informed as those down here. I went to a presentation given to my City Council by a So. Oregon Univ. Prof of Geology exactly on this topic, though the focus was Earthquake damage, not tsunami, since we’re 60 miles from the coast. The professor talked about bridges up and down I-5, and crossing the rivers and streams being taken out or so damaged that heavy trucks would not be able to cross, Lost Creek Reservoir dam failing and flooding the Rogue River Valley, utilities, power, city water and sewer being out, etc., etc. While the The tsunami will have its impact, no doubt, the potential for highway and road impassibility, other essential services, replenishment of food, etc. isn’t even mentioned. Read-up, and get readier… http://discovermagazine.com/2012/extreme-earth/01-big-one-earthquake-could-devastate-pacific-northwest/ and http://geology.about.com/od/quake_preparedness/a/aa_cascadiaEQ.htm

    • Thanks for those links, RogueDave, especially the one to Discover Magazine. Just south of Lincoln City there is one of the ghost forests at Schooner Bay, and so the evidence of how a massive quake along the CSZ can affect the area is in plain view of Highway 101. Personally, we are trying to prepare for a lengthy time on our own after such a quake. We live near Newport, and with 101 being laid waste and all of the routes toward the Willamette Valley susceptible to landslides, I believe that it would be quite some time until any significant assistance could reach us. The word is slowly getting out, but it is coming out haphazardly and with no emphasis, so people are just saying “oh, interesting” and going on with their lives. Most of the local authorities remind me of the mayor in the first “Jaws” movie: starting a panic would be bad for business, so let’s keep this quiet! Still, every little bit of warning and preparing is better than nothing.

  8. A lack of preparedness on your part is not an emergency on my part.
    I am a prepper, I am not religious.
    Survival of the prepared, will always beat survival of the fittest, let alone the rest of y’all.

  9. Scarlett says:

    Austin, when the S hits the fan, if it gets bad, you will be religious, think it or not. Or at the moment of your own Armageddon, which is something we all will face. Many turn to Jesus just before death, if they are fortunate and have a moment of clarity in which to ask Him to care for our soul as soul departs body. Don’t get too smug yet.
    And it’s good that you’re a prepper, but when your cousin, uncle, grandfather, best friend, children, come to you for help, will you be so sure a lack of preparation on their part is not an emergency on your part? Can you really turn those people away comfortably? This is a prepper’s dilemma, and if it causes you no duress to consider it, then I pray God keeps you far from me if it happens. Hopefully, you have feelings toward your fellow man, woman, and child.

    • Scarlett, that was a great rebuttal and I couldn’t of said it better! My Dad used to tell me when I was young and rebellious that there are no atheists in foxholes, and he was right. When SHTF there will be many people with nothing left, including our family members – can anyone be so callous as to turn them away in their time of need? I hope not, but I’ve also seen just how unfeeling human nature can be at times. We are making our own preparations, but when it happens if a family member came to us for help we would not turn them away but would share with them what God has blessed us with.

  10. Arlene Mayberry says:

    I live near the 20 miles inland of the Atlantic ocean. I heard there might be a possibilty of a tsunami in our area. Has anyone heard anything in regards to this? T

    • Actually, there is the possibility of a tsunami striking the east coast, depending on what happens out in the Atlantic. The most likely cause would be a major eruption/collapse of one of the Azores’ volcanoes (at least two are active) but a powerful enough quake anywhere along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge could conceivably trigger a tsunami. Unfortunately, so much of our eastern seaboard is flat and low-lying, so any size tsunami would do a great deal of damage. Being twenty miles inland should work in your favor depending on the terrain between you and the coast, and whether or not you live along a river that feeds directly into a bay. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is a possibility that you should be aware of so that you can make some emergency plans. Peace to you, Arlene.

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